By Gab Oguda
If you choose to attack Kofi Annan’s role during the Rwanda Genocide, kindly save yourself the embarrassment by doing so with facts.
One. Koffi Annan was the head of the DPKO on April 7th 1994, when the Rwanda genocide touchpaper was lit. The DPKO stands for Department of Peace Keeping Operations, who, at that time, had their troops on the ground monitoring other wars in Angola, Mozambique, Liberia, Somalia, El Savador, Haiti, Cambodia, Bosnia, Yugoslavia, Georgia, Iraq and Kuwait.
Two. Koffi Annan, as the titular head of the DPKO, had two other advisors working in his office at the time. Iqbal Riza, renowned Pakistani diplomat, and the guy responsible for advising Kofi Annan on the political aspects of peacekeeping. The other was General Maurice Baril, the Canadian military General who was in-charge of advising Kofi Annan on military operations at the DPKO. They were later to be joined by the Tunisian diplomat Heidi Annabi; who served at the DPKO as Director of the Africa Division from 1993 to 1996.
Three. Rwanda had a seat at the United Nations Security Council at the time of the genocide. The Rwanda ambassador to the United Nations was a right wing Hutu extremist, who shot down every proposal to beef up the United Nations peacekeeping force there.
Four. The United States, Russia and China, three of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, voted for the withdrawal of the UN Peace Keeping force in Rwanda even before the genocide began. They argued that the force was burning funds that could have been used elsewhere. They gave Rwanda an ultimatum to establish the Broad Based Transitional Government (BBTG) or else the peacekeeping force could be withdrawn.
Five. President Juvenal Habyarimana had gone to Dar-es-Salaam to meet African leaders to discuss the installation of the BBTG. A faction of his ruling party weren’t happy with his efforts to bring together all warring factions in Rwanda. The Hutu extremists saw Habyarimana as a sympathizing moderate; a traitor to the Hutu extremist cause.
Six. Habyarimana’s plane was shot down on his landing back to Kigali from Dar-es-Salaam. Also killed in the plane crash was Burundi President Cyprien Ntaryamira, another Hutu, who had been allowed to fly back with Habyarimana taking up the place of Rwanda Foreign Minister, Anastase Gasana, who was forced to remain in Tanzania. An act that saved Anastase’s life because his name was in the list of government ministers considers to to be Hutu moderates and marked for death.
Seven. Immediately that plane was shot down, the Hutu extremists in Rwanda closed down the airport. On the day the President was assasinated, there was a Hercules plane carrying medical supplies to the peacekeepers which had been asked to wait in Nairobi for the President to land before they could be given the all clear to proceed to land in Kigali. That plane never made it to Kigali. The Belgian peacekeepers manning the airport were rounded up and shot on sight. The arms cache they had been protecting not to land in the wrong hands were fished out and handed to the Interehamwe to begin the butchery.
Oh, and not at any one time did the Annan-Iqbal-Baril triumvirate refuse to pick their calls from the UNAMIR nerve-centre at the Amahoro Stadium.
Hope this helps.